by Francisco Salazar
Nine months ago, Julius Indongo was an unknown fighter from a small village in Namibia.
Hardly anyone gave him any chance of pulling off a monumental upset when he squared off against then-IBF world titleholder Edward Troyanovsky.
However, Indongo shot two birds with one stone in that fight. Not only did he knock out Troyanovsky in 40 seconds of round one, but he scored a candidate for 'Knockout of the Year.'
Over four months later, Indongo pulled off another victory, defeating Ricky Burns to capture the WBA title in Glasgow, Burns' hometown.
Can he pull off a trifecta by defeating the best junior welterweight in the world tonight in Terence Crawford? With what he has accomplished and overcoming a difficult upbringing, do not count him out.
Indongo will put up his WBA and IBF world title belts tonight when he faces Crawford in a 12 round unification bout at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska. The fight will headline a three-bout 'Top Rank on ESPN' broadcast, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.
Crawford's WBC and WBO world titles will be on the line.
Indongo (22-0, with 11 KOs) may be 34 years of age, but he is at the apex of his career. The 2008 Olympian from Namibia, a country located in southwestern portion of Africa, did not have the luxuries some amateurs have early on.
"I began boxing when I was 11 years of age after listening to fights on the radio," Indongo told Boxingscene.com recently. "We didn't have hand wraps when I first started. It was only when I had my first amateur fight years later did I have wraps."
Indongo would make his pro debut almost a year after the conclusion of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He would mostly fight at a country club resort in the capital of Windhoek, but there were occurrences he would fight in small halls throughout the country.
His purses were small considering the high six-figure purse he is receiving Saturday night.
Indongo, who met Crawford for the first time on Aug. 4, never imagined the path his career would take over the last year or so.
"It never crossed my mind. Being from Africa, I did not have the access to some of the top promoters in the world. It was not easy to get to this point. It was a very fortunate situation for me to get these opportunities."
That is not to say Indongo had thoughts he would one day face Crawford.
"I've followed Crawford's style. It is an interesting style that he has and that's why I've followed and studied him over the last couple of years. He's a very good fighter. He does his best when he is on the inside. That's where he's the most dangerous."
While Indongo remains the underdog against Crawford, a win over the fighter from Omaha would mean everything for Indongo.
"A victory would be very historic in my country. I don't know if I would receive any special treatment, but defeating Crawford would be a significant accomplishment."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at santio89[email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing